KEI and Médecins Sans Frontières propose contractual terms to protect access and affordability of Zika vaccine

25 July 2017
CONTACT: Kim Treanor, or +1 (202) 332-2670

Washington, 25 July 2017 - Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have sent a letter today to the Command Judge Advocate of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), recommending two specific contractual terms for the proposed license of the US Army’s Zika vaccine technology to Sanofi Pasteur.

The suggested terms are aimed at ensuring access and affordability for individuals in both the United States and in other countries where Zika has struck. A representative of Sanofi wrote a letter to the Command Judge Advocate of USAMRMC and six U.S. Senators on July 12, 2017, denying that any specific terms on fair pricing have yet been presented by the Army and rejected by the company.

The first recommendation by KEI and MSF is that USAMRMC require that Sanofi to disclose the steps it will take to enable the registration and availability of the vaccine at an affordable price in every county with a demonstrated need, according to the CDC/WHO, either by supplying a country directly at an affordable, publicly disclosed price and with sufficient quantities, or by providing technology transfer and rights to all intellectual property necessary for third parties to do so.

The second recommendation for the license text by KEI and MSF is for the USAMRMC to require that Sanofi agrees to make the vaccine, which is being developed with U.S. taxpayer funds, available to the public in the U.S. at publicly disclosed prices no higher than the median price charged in the seven countries with the largest GDP, which have per capita incomes of at least half that of the U.S.

KEI and MSF specifically cite Sanofi’s track record of high prices and limited access for drugs it has developed, and urge that pricing discussions occur prior to the issuance of any license.

While these terms are recommended for any license granted by USAMRMC to Sanofi, KEI and MSF reiterate their position that there is no reason to proceed with a license at this time, and recommend a non-exclusive license if one must be granted.

The following statement should be attributed to James Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International:

“Sanofi wants a monopoly on a US government funded vaccine until 2036, and they don’t want to discuss the price until after they have obtained a legal monopoly from the Army, which holds a patent on the vaccine. Sanofi claims the Army never made a specific proposal on pricing to Sanofi. MSF and KEI are asking the Army to make a specific proposal, suggesting two terms, that collectively will expand access to a vaccine the US government has funded, and which can prevent birth defects. Someone in the Trump administration should pay attention to this giveaway to a French drug company, and deal with the pricing issue.”

The following statement should be attributed to Jason Cone, Executive Director, USA, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders:

“This Zika vaccine could save countless lives all across the globe, but only if it actually reaches the people who need it most. At MSF, we see every day the rationing of essential medical care due to high prices and go without certain drugs and vaccines altogether. That’s why it’s critical the US government demands that this taxpayer-funded Zika vaccine is affordable and available for everyone, including treatment providers like MSF. If Sanofi or any company can develop and sell this Zika vaccine under a US government-given monopoly, it should at least have to disclose the steps it will take to register this product and make it available at an affordable price in every county that needs it.”

The letter is available as a PDF here

KEI has a web page on the Zika vaccine licensing dispute here: